Could the DS benefit from some of the same treatment? Airport download stations are great -- for people who already have a DS -- but maybe the handheld would benefit from display in a few other markets, along with some of these games. The DS has had a hard time breaking out of the markets for gamers and kids, despite the wealth of Everyman software available. Games like Face Training and Let's Yoga could help move the system into the mainstream -- after all, they're certainly cheaper than yoga classes, or paying for a facial yoga trainer -- but first, people have to know about them, and have to understand why games like these can be both fun and beneficial.
Looking back at the example for Brain Age 2, short ads are showing up during more interesting television fare, but they don't compare to ads for the game in other regions. These ads may play during Top Chef, but will anyone who isn't already a gamer pay attention? Sure, we like the ad -- it offers a puzzle right from the start. But what if you look up halfway through? Will it mean anything at all if you're unfamiliar with the game? What if all you see is the very end? Then it's just another video game ad, and if you're a nongamer, that means it can safely be ignored. The problem with the DS ads is they don't have quite the same punch as the parents and kids playing around with the Wii while two gaming fairy godfathers benevolently assist with family fun time. There's nothing in this ad that demonstrates that anyone can do it ... and despite the proliferation of computers and the complicated cellphones that ride in our pockets and purses, many people still have to be convinced to make the leap to a gaming system, especially a portable system.
And all the reasons are in place -- they just have to be presented the right way. The DS is just as much a revolution
as the Wii -- if not more -- but it needs a push to achieve the same success. We would love to see a Brain Age 2
demo station in a bookstore near the self-help section, for instance, but would settle for a commercial that shows an adult of indeterminate age enjoying and benefiting from the title. As much as we love Dr. Kawashima, we must admit he is an acquired taste, and he's not exactly someone Mr. or Mrs. Middle America will identify with while watching an evening of Bravo's television lineup. The American ads still scream "video game," whereas those for the Wii clearly communicate "fun device for anyone,"
and that's what the DS needs. Advertise Let's Yoga
and (a localized) Face Training
in the makeup aisles at department stores. Buy ads in men's and women's magazines. Show people that they can get the things they already want from what is essentially no different from a pocket computer, and the DS may break that final barrier in the US.